An impressive collective of Temple University students affirms the quality of its school’s theater and music departments with an ambitious new musical based on a legend from 18th-century Prince Edward Island. Written by Nathan Landis Funk and directed by Joshua Kachnycz, the original work, set in a 19th-century tavern, employs storytelling, re-enactments, Celtic-style folk music and dance, and historical fact and fiction in a fully-developed book and score that convey an uplifting message of “forgiveness and redemption.”
A trio of accomplished musicians–Steven Crino (who also serves as music director, on drums and piano), Connor Storms (guitar), and Evan Raines (violin and tin whistle)–underscores the changing moods of the maritime story, from the exuberant Irish dancing (choreographed by Kimberly Maxson) to the drunken brawls and swordfights (fight choreography by Oliver Donahue), from the melancholy of lost love to the haunting remembrances of a sunken ghost ship. Costumes (Aidan Miller) and props (Joshua DeRuosi) evoke the era, and the makeshift set (Tom Macagnone) cleverly converts from bar room tables to a dock and ships. Among the highlights of the show are the pure and powerful voice of Chelsea Aubert and the comic relief provided by Bobby Lang (as the uncouth “scrapper” Benjamin Blackwood). Despite some inaudible lines and missed notes, the talented young cast captures the spirit of the characters and the intrigues of the narrative in an engaging and entertaining production, which sold out before it opened! [Asian Arts Initiative, 1219 Vine St., 3rd fl.] September 10-14, 2015; fringearts.com/tale-of-the-phantom-ship.